The funeral and commemoration rite among the Tuvans of Bayan-Ölgii and Khövsgöl aimags, Mongolia

Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy. 2017;0(1)

 

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Journal Title: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

ISSN: 2079-8482 (Online)

Publisher: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences: Communities. Classes. Races

Country of publisher: Russian Federation

Language of fulltext: Russian

Full-text formats available: PDF

 

AUTHORS

Elena V Ayyzhy (Тувинский государственный университет)

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 18 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

The article provides a reconstruction of the funeral and commemoration rite of Tuvans in Mongolia. The rite includes a series of acts, rites, customs and taboos that are enacted immediately after the death of a person and until he or she is buried and the funeral feast is held. There has been a wealth of studies of rites associated with funerals and commemoration among the Tuvans of their titular region, but never among Tuvans living in Mongolia. Our reconstruction is based on the data collected by the author during expeditions to Mongolia, namely to the village of Tsagaan Nuur, the Eastern taiga are of Khövsgöl aimag and to the village of Tsengel, Bayan-Ölgii aimag in 1996-2015. The Tuvans of Tsengel are known for strictly preserving the guarding rituals. To prevent the soul from returning, the dead body is never carried out of the yurt through the door, but through one of its walls, with men wearing their clothes inside out. After the ritual is over, all those present walk around the grave three times, throwing millet on the grave as a farewell gesture – and then return without looking back. The 7th and 49th day commemoration feasts do not feature Shamans, with a marked preference for lamas (a Buddhist influence). In Tsagaan Nuur, the rite has specific local features. A death is reported euphemistically, but the common Tuvan idiom ‘went to fetch some red salt’ is unknown here. Coffins are prepared by a certain body of people. If the death happened in the taiga, then no coffin was needed and no special place sought. The burial area was ‘sanctified’ by burning juniper, and the body was carried by a man on his back (using a special kind of bedding). Prior to the burial, everyone took leave of the dead person, millet was thrown around, and the dirge sung. After the burial, the grave would become taboo, and those who participated in the funeral would have undergo ‘cleansing’ and join the ‘last feast’. Commemoration on the 7th day is unknown, while the 49th day feast is preserved. Overall, the funeral and commemoration rites of Mongolian Tuvans include 4 stages of rites and customs: 1) from the moment of death to the funeral; 2) the burial and the return from the cemetery; 3) the funeral feast; 4) the 7th and/or 49th day commemoration events. Funeral rites of Tuvans living in Mongolia reveal their ethnogenetic and ethnocultural links with their compatriots in Tuva. At the same time it is quite clear that the former have preserved their tradition in more detail.